[image courtesy 21 Club official website; note that only The Babe gets off tie-free]
To be clear, we're positively reeling from this morning's news that midtown's famed 21 Club is quietly relaxing its jacket-and-tie dresscode. Though perhaps an inevitability, we can't help but think the moment represents a vital breakpoint...
That was then. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the 21 Club traces its history back to prohibition; after a time on the lam from the law, it settled into its current digs at 21 West 52nd Street in 1929. In the basement there remains the famous '21' wine celler, hidden behind a 18"-thick cinderblock door. Beyond, are the wine collections of every important family in New York, from the Astors to the Kennedys to the Rockefellers. Famously, every president since FDR has dined at 21, with, now, the equally famous exception of George W. Bush. And on this last point, you can be clear: they all wore ties.
That also was then. In more recent times, one member of the Eater crew has been ejected from 21 for not wearing a tie. At another meal, an Eater editor attempted to wear crisp dark denim into the dining room; no go. And in casual conversation with some of the powers that be at 21 just a year or so back, there was no indication whatsoever that any relaxation to the ties-in-the-dining-room policy would even have been pondered, much less seriously considered.
This is now. Which is why today's news strikes so hard. Certainly, the 21 Club is not the only formal establishment left in Manhattan, but it is the type of place of which, say, Fodors has this to say: "This is one of the few restaurants in Manhattan that requires jacket and tie." Friends, remove the italics, given this morning's pronouncement: "Ties are still preferred and greatly appreciated, but they are no longer a must."
Life will go on. It is, after all, only a dress code. But a moment of silence, please, for the passing of an era that we're feeling nostalgic for already.
· 21 Club Loses The Tie [~E~]